Times of Israel editor notes Guardian’s “savage criticism” of the Jewish State

Ilan Ben Zion, political editor of Times of Israel, noted, in a column yesterday, the “savage criticism” of Israel in the UK media (especially at the Guardian) in coverage of the war with Hamas, especially in comparison with news outlets “on the other side of the pond”. 

After highlighting some of the sympathetic coverage towards Israel which has appeared in the Wall St. Journal, Ben Zion turned to the UK media, focusing on Times of London, as well as the Guardian:

Across the pond in London, The Times’ lead coverage placed its focus on the Palestinian civilian death toll, which “continued to spiral,” and the “mounting international pressure on Israeli leaders not to risk a potentially devastating ground offensive.” The paper also alluded to a degree of reluctance in the Israeli government to follow through with its pronouncement that it’d levy a heavy price on Hamas.

“Domestic support for a ground offensive is strong, with feelings running high after the killings of the three religious students in the West Bank,” the paper reported. “The need to answer that outrage may have helped fuel political rhetoric about a blistering offensive in Gaza without a clear commitment to actually undertake one.”

Ben Zion then turned to the Guardian:

Britain’s The Guardian featured an opinion piece by Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative, in which he despairs that the world is standing by once again amid a “campaign of collective punishment against Palestinian citizens across the occupied territories.” He calls for international intervention to restrain the IDF, and urges world leaders to stop the escalation of violence “and prevent further slaughter.”

He says the asymmetry of the conflict is the root of its violence, but makes only passing reference to the relentless rocket attacks on Israeli citizens.

“The fact remains that an illegal military occupation has been in place for 47 years,” he says. “It is one that has transformed life for Palestinians into an oppressive system of apartheid. Without changing that, nothing else will change.”

One of the paper’s most popular commentaries (as of the time of this writing) compared the current conflict between Israel and Gaza to “Mike Tyson punching a toddler,” and decried the BBC’s coverage of the three-day conflict.

“The media coverage hardly reflects the reality,” writes Owen Jones. “A military superpower armed with F-15 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache helicopters, Delilah missiles, IAI Heron-1 drones and Jericho II missiles (and nuclear bombs, for that matter), versus what [British Prime Minister] David Cameron describes as a ‘prison camp’ firing almost entirely ineffective missiles.”

No opinion pieces from the other side of the spectrum featured prominently on the British paper’s website

In addition to the examples cited by the Times of Israel editor, a few other articles and op-eds at the Guardian are worth noting:

  • An op-ed by Daniel Levy, a New Israel Fund board member and Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation, was published at ‘CiF’ which defended Hamas – characterizing the Islamist group as reasonable, non-radical, “mainstream” nationalist movement.
  • letter, signed by the Guardian’s usual list of anti-Zionist activists, was published which accused Israel of “ethnically cleansing the indigenous population“, and actually criticized the BBC for its pro-Israel coverage!
  • Finally, a cartoon by Martin Rowson is emblematic of the media group’s coverage to date.  Rowson used Wimbledon as a theme to contrast the Israeli Goliath with the benign ‘rocket lobbing’ Hamasnik. 

martin rowson

Whilst the Guardian’s egregiously one-sided coverage of the war isn’t at all surprising , it’s always instructive nonetheless to note the widespread notoriety of a London daily aptly characterized by Jeffrey Goldberg as the”English-language newspaper least friendly to Israel on earth”.

Harriet Sherwood falsely reports on alleged arrests of Palestinians at ‘Bab al-Shams’

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, ‘Israel evicts E1 Palestinian peace camp activists, Jan. 13, about Palestinian protesters who set up a tent city, named Bab al-Shams, in the area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim known as E-1, and were recently removed by Israeli police, began as follows:

“The Israeli state has swung into action against a group of Palestinian activists who established a tent village on a rocky hillside east of Jerusalem, with hundreds of security officials carrying out an eviction under the orders of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

According to activists, a large military force surrounded the encampment at around 3am. All protesters were arrested and six were injured, said Abir Kopty.”

Further in the report, Sherwood added the following:

Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti, who was among those arrested, said the eviction was “proof that the Israeli government operates an apartheid system.

However, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, there were no arrests made — a statement which was accurately reported by several Arab media outlets and which Rosenfeld confirmed today to CAMERA. According to Rosenfeld, a few activists were detained briefly, then released.

Today, CAMERA prompted a speedy correction to a CNN report which also included false allegations about protester arrests.

As CAMERA noted in their post about the original CNN error, even  Al Jazeera, “hardly a source known for reporting skewed in Israel’s favor” reported the story accurately, writing the following:

“Several activists were detained during Sunday morning eviction, including Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Al Jazeera’s correspondent, reporting from Jerusalem, said.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson, reporting from Jerusalem, said the activists who were detained were driven to Qalandiya checkpoint and then released.”

Additionally, here’s how the Arab News reported it:

“Hundreds of Israeli police came from all directions, surrounding all those who were in the tents and arresting them one by one,” Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti told AFP.

But police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that no arrests had been made.

And, here’s the relevant passage from a report by the Egyptian site, Ahram Online:

“Hundreds of Israeli police came from all directions, surrounding all those who were in the tents and arresting them one by one,” Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti told AFP.

But police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that no arrests had been made.

“They were told they were trespassing and carefully escorted from the site one by one,” he said. “Nobody was hurt on either side.”

It appears as if Sherwood merely took the statements by Palestinian activists at face value without even attempting to corroborate their claims.

Please consider writing a respectful email to the Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, asking for a correction to Sherwood’s false claim.

reader@guardian.co.uk